PARIS, November 2 2014: As the finishing touches were put on the 2014 ATP World Tour regular season at theBNP Paribas Masters, it was apropos that its World No. 1 would write the final chapter in thrilling fashion.
On Sunday at the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy, Novak Djokovic became the latest player â€”and 23rd overallâ€” to claim 600 match victories, powering to his 20th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Milos Raonic. The new father capped an impressive season for the 600 Wins Club, becoming the third player to join the exclusive group in 2014, alongsideLleyton Hewitt and David Ferrer.
At just 27 years old, six years younger than Hewitt and five behind Ferrer, achieving the milestone is a testament to Djokovicâ€™s consistent run of dominance since crashing onto the scene in the late 2000s. A fearless competitor, the Serbâ€™s ascent to the summit of the ATP World Tour has not been without its share of struggles, but it has been the Belgrade nativeâ€™s strength in the face of adversity and warrior mentality that has made him one of the elite players in the modern era.
â€œI think that the 600th win for Novak came in the right moment, just a week after his son was born and a week before London,â€ Serbian rising star Dusan Lajovic told ATPWorldTour.com. â€œAlong with pushing to secure the No. 1 spot to finish the season, it’s a great week for him, that’s for sure.
â€œWinning 600 matches [in singles] is something nobody from our country did before, and even though we are all accustomed to Novak making new records it’s an incredible thing to win that many matches. It’s also a big boost for us younger players to work even harder.â€
“It’s amazing how quickly he reached the 600 wins,” added countrymanNenad Zimonjic, who has amassed 624 doubles match wins over a 19-year career. “He’s had a very impressive career from his first professional win. He improved every year and keeps improving and that’s why he’s at No. 1 right now.”
Djokovic competes with a flair for the dramatic that is embedded in the fabric of his identity. A 46-time titlist on the ATP World Tour, good for third-most among active players (Federer, Nadal), he boasts a defensive-oriented game that has dominated in an era of titanic servers and baseline bombers. The Serb is an elastic wall at the back of the court that defies the laws of physics, relying on a seemingly impervious transition game to win matches.
â€œHeâ€™s remarkably consistent on every surface and I think heâ€™s taken movement and flexibility to a whole new level,” former World No. 4 Brad Gilbert said to ATPWorldTour.com. “He has the best backhand in this era and the best since Andre (Agassi).â€
â€œDjokovic has got that art of sliding on cement,â€ Rod Laver commented during the 2013 Shanghai Rolex Masters. â€œScares the hell out of me. I would think you could sprain an ankle very quick.â€
Active Members Of 600 Wins Club
|1) Roger Federer||991|
|2) Rafael Nadal||706|
|3) Lleyton Hewitt||611|
|4) David Ferrer||602|
|5) Novak Djokovic||600|
One of the more relentless returners in history, Djokovic owns a 45 per cent career break point conversion rate, tied for second-most all-time. Like an orchestra conductor leading a symphony, very few can match Djokovicâ€™s wit and brute force from the baseline, often dictating rallies with one of the most lethal backhands in the game.
Upon beating Djokovic at the Australian Open earlier this year, Stan Wawrinka said, “He’s so tough to beat. He’s an amazing champion. He always fights. He always finds a solution.”
Djokovic has found a second home atop the Emirates ATP Rankings since first ascending to World No. 1 on 4 July, 2011. Boasting a 145-25 record while in the top spot, his 118 weeks there are the seventh-most in history. A two-time year-end No. 1 (2011-12), he is a three-time winner at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals (2008, â€˜12-13) as well.
The Boris Becker and Marian Vajda pupil is also closing in on 60 match wins in a season for the eighth consecutive year. A seven-time Grand Slam titlist, having hoisted four trophies at the Australian Open, he led Serbia to the Davis Cup crown in 2010.
Djokovic entered the 2011 ATP World Tour season with burgeoning confidence and would turn in one of the greatest single-season campaigns in history. The Serb opened the year with a 41-match win streak and would capture 10 titles overall, including three Grand Slams and five ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns.
â€œDjokovic had the greatest year in the history of our sport, thereâ€™s no doubt about it,â€ said John McEnroe in 2011. â€œHe bewildered Nadal. Iâ€™ve never seen Nadal look as if he doesnâ€™t know what to do â€“ and even on clay in Rome, Djokovic made him look like that.â€
During his unforgettable stretch, he compiled a combined 10-1 record against Federer and Nadal and finished year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time.
Djokovic Match Win Milestones
|1st||2004 Davis Cup vs Latvia*||d. Janis Skroderis|
|100th||2007 Umag, 1R||d. Pablo Andujar|
|200th||2009 Indian Wells, 2R||d. Martin Vassallo Arguello|
|300th||2010 Cincinnati, 2R||d. Viktor Troicki|
|400th||2012 Australian Open, SF||d. Andy Murray|
|500th||2013 Roland Garros, 3R||d. Grigor Dimitrov|
|600th||2014 Paris, F||d. Milos Raonic|
*First ATP World Tour win came over Arnaud Clement in Bucharest 2004
Following their meeting in Cincinnati in August, Tommy Robredo said it best: “If you don’t play your best you’re going to lose for sure. Even if you play your best, sometimes if he’s playing great, you’re going to lose also.”
Like every great player, Djokovic has taken the sport to the next level. Federer made everyone play better; Nadal too. Djokovic has added his own stamp on the sport â€“ a driven champion, who combines sheer athleticism with a will to win at all costs.